By Sadad Talhouni
Before you quit your job and jump into the world of startups and accelerators, are you sure you’re capable of captaining your own company? We asked the pros at Oasis 500 what warning signs indicate that someone isn’t meant to be an entrepreneur.
- You’re afraid to fail
The likelihood of failure in both small and large tasks is high and frequent, said Omar Sharif, marketing manager at Oasis 500. So you had better get accustomed to failure. A track record of handling difficult experiences is a good way of evaluating someone’s ability to handle failure. “I check to see if they’ve had hard experiences,” Robert Carroll, director of Jordan’s Startup Grind and investment expert at Oasis 500, told Venture. “If they’ve done a lot of hard things, they’ll definitely have succeeded at some and failed at others.” Having a support system to lean back on, getting good mentorship, and reading up on case studies are all ways of better preparing you for handling failure.
- You’re not time-efficient
There are always opportunities to do two things or more at once, Carroll said. But Sharif believes multitasking isn’t the only way to optimize your productivity. A lot of the time, it’s about knowing how to set the right deadlines, meeting them, and proper scheduling. “A lot of the companies we’ve invested in are run by single moms and women who’ve had babies while working on their startups. They’ve managed to do it by scheduling time for work and their loved ones.”
- You lack the passion
Being passionate about your startup is critical. It’s important to have that flow, where working is equally as fun as spending time with family, and time passes quickly. You shouldn’t have to ramp up your energy to get to work. Passion, however, is subjective, and you have to find out for yourself what you truly enjoy. “You could be a bad entrepreneur in the paper industry, but a good one in the theme park industry,” Carroll said.
- You’re not smart with money
“Cash flow is essential. You have to be clever with how you’re spending your money,” said Sharif, adding that budding entrepreneurs had to get accustomed to low standards of living, especially in the early stages of the business. Carroll said the number one reason businesses fail is the company’s inability to manage its cash.
- You’re not a quick learner
Entrepreneurs should be able to learn and adapt rapidly in order to find out what is right for their business. “The first three employees of a startup should be jacks-of-all-trades and understand a broad array of subjects,” explained Carroll. Sharif also advised reading a lot of books and experimenting constantly. “If you’re only willing to put CEO on your business card, and never go and load boxes or be a salesperson, it just won’t work. There is no time for ego.”
- You pass the buck
Being the founder of a startup means you get to make all the big, exciting decisions about what direction the company takes. But understanding the consequences of all these decisions, both good and bad, falls on you. You still have to answer to your clients, stakeholders, and investors.
- You don’t know your limits
“You have to acknowledge where you have limitations and get someone to help you with them,” Sharif said. The best way to identify your limitations is to be self aware, Carroll said, and having a two person team really helps.
- You don’t understand the concept of publicity
According to both Carroll and Sharif, would-be entrepreneurs in the Middle East often make mistakes related to publicity and customer satisfaction. A lot of people think that if they put their product online, it will sell itself, Sharif said. But you have to work hard to promote your product just to get a single sale. Another common mistake is failing to follow up on a successful sale. It’s crucial to understand the concept of recurring customers and bad publicity. Whether it’s through brand name, word of mouth, or reviews, people buy things on trust.